Cult guru among dead

The Associated Press

GENEVA His life was a contradiction. His death was shrouded in a bloody mystery that cost the lives of 52 of his disciples.

Swiss police said Thursday that Luc Jouret, the guru of the Order of the Solar Temple cult, was among the charred corpses found in an Alpine chalet last week.

The identification ended the international hunt for the 46-year-old Belgian homeopath. It also dimmed hopes of uncovering the reason behind the deaths of five cult members in Canada and 48 others in Switzerland.

Did Jouret who was obsessed with the end of the world lead them into suicide? Or did murder play a bigger role?

Chief pathologist Thomas Krompecher said Jouret's body like others found in two chalets bore no trace of bullet holes. By contrast, many of the victims found in a Swiss farmhouse had multiple shot wounds. Three of the dead in Canada were stabbed.

There are no witnesses to the tragedy. The cult's mastermind, Joseph di Mambro, its treasurer and Canadian branch leader are dead.

BAGHDAD, Iraq Saddam Hussein offered early Friday to recognize Kuwait as a sovereign state with the understanding it would lead to the United Nations easing a stifling embargo after six months.

The proposal came in a statement issued after a meeting between the Iraqi leader and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who arrived in Baghdad Thursday to try to defuse tensions between Iraq and a U.S.-led coalition backing Kuwait.

Shortly after the statement was issued, senior U.S. military officials in Washington said some Iraqi units that had been heading away from the Kuwait border halted their retreat Thursday. The officials said that prompted the Pentagon to rethink a hold it had put on the flow of U.S. troops to the Gulf.

Hussein's offer, broadcast early Friday in Iraq, echoed one made by his U.N. ambassador on Wednesday. The statement did not specify when Baghdad would recognize Kuwait, which it has long maintained was part of Iraq.

The 1991 Persian Gulf War cease-fire resolution, calls for lifting the oil embargo after Iraq had eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and a monitoring program is in place to make sure Iraq doesn't try to rebuild them.

U.N. weapons inspectors told the Security Council on Tuesday that the sophisticated monitoring system was ready.

NEW YORK Two fuels of the American economy gasoline and coffee were cheaper last month, but don't count on the good times to last.

Gasoline prices in big cities are likely to rise because of federal requirements for cleaner-burning winter gas. And coffee prices have been up and down in recent months.

Wholesale price declines in those two commodities combined to push wholesale inflation figures down sharply in September. The overall drop, reported Thursday by the Labor Department, was good news for the economy, which some analysts had feared was growing too fast, threatening higher inflation.

Crop-damaging drought in Brazil, countered by forecasts of healthy rain, have sent coffee prices on a roller-coaster ride.

The outlook is about as hazy as an early morning with a broken percolator.

"If you ask anybody in the business, they'll say, 'We're clueless. We don't know,'" said John Schimelpfenig, president of the coffee-trading firm Maxor Trading Co. "Prices dropped 36 cents (per pound) last week and rebounded this week."

Coffee prices on the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange in New York have risen nearly 9 percent this week.

PHOENIX A new international body will address deplorable living conditions and spreading pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border under a proposal which could receive presidential approval within days, officials said Thursday.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., gathered with state health officials here to laud congressional action last week creating the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission.

If authorized, the group will address public health problems in four American and six Mexican states, with authority to recommend governmental action on both sides of the international boundary. Members also will secure funding to the relevant agencies which carry out such actions.

Both congressmen said President Clinton is likely to sign the bill within days.

"He realizes that there are problems along the border," Pastor said. "In the past, there hasn't been a body to address problems on both sides (of the border). He's supportive of this effort."

The bill, which McCain co-sponsored with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, R-N.M., and Rep. Ron Coleman, D-Texas, passed the Senate with a voice vote and more than two-thirds of the House.

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